Monday, July 12, 2010

Learning on the job

So mom always said that I would begin to understand her better when I became a mother myself. And the father always wondered why we persisted in making the same mistakes he forewarned us about. As annoying as cliches are, they make the point don't they? As predicted I now have an insight into what made my parents say and do the things they did.

Harsh parent fact for the day is this: Your children are not your children. I mean you can cling to the fact that as a parent you have complete ownership of your offspring ... but that would just be self serving. Every relationship that they inherit - grandparents, cousins, random friends et al have a claim on who they grow up to be.

Coming back to what my parents said. I have a glimpse of the big and small heart breaks that have started coming at me already. But being wise beyond my years (seriously ... ), I'm learning to back off and be that bedrock that they can always bank on no matter what. You will be side tracked, stepped upon and sometimes completely ignored by your children. Thats fine. No really it is. But the umbilical cord though disposed off (or salted away for the stem cell thing) at birth is always in place. No matter how far and where they wander, it will lead them right back across time and space when it is most needed.

Did I mention that my kids are 6 and 2 years old respectively? Sigh ... and we're not even in the ball park of the teen thing yet.

So ... does all this realization mean that I will stop being a nag? Uh - well lets not hope for miracles just yet shall we?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All about the Dress

This morning, in a rare departure from my pants and jacket style of work clothes, I decided to wear a dress. A nice, conservative black one appropriately ending just below the knee - paired with a striped shirt that went under it. You might say the very epitome of dressed for success and Carpe Diem and all that sort of thing. Thus attired, I then ran around the house, picking toys, flipping omlettes, changing a diaper and instructing my son incessantly about what he could and should and could not and should not do on this day. Here is what the offspring had to say:

Me: Rishi make sure you don't go to the neighbour's without calling me first.
Son (aged 6): Ok ma, but you look silly. Why are you dressed in a school uniform?
Me: Its not a school uniform - its damn fine office wear.
Son: Well, you look silly in a frock.

After a few deep breaths and a quick lecture to the boy on the essential difference between frock and dress, I went inside to the bedroom to wear my shoes and make a dash out of the house and make good time for the first meeting of the day. It was being inhabited by bounder number 2 and here is how that panned out:

Me: Rhea, my baby, my lovey duck, let mamma fix your hair and make you all pretty to play with your toys:
Daughter (aged 2): mama shame shame ... where your pants?

I didn't have time to pick up the bits and pieces of my self confidence that were strewn everywhere, so I just went to work and had the most miserable day pulling down the hem of my DRESS everytime I met a client or caught sight of myself in a pane of glass.

Anyone wanting the few dresses still hanging in my clothes rack - you know where to get me!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dance if you can

In my imagination I can gyrate and glide across dance floors like a nimble nymph ... or like Uma Thurman from pulp fiction depending on my frame of mind. But of course I take care not to actually let this happen. I mean a mother of two has a certain protocol to follow and an image to maintain - I've had my son point at me and roll on the floor laughing when I've tried to show him a dance move or two. Its still tender where it hurt!

But seriously, I used to be a proper little twinkle toes and I've got all sorts of trophies from my days in JNC and Bishop Cotton's to prove this. But life and bitter experience has taught me that its not ok to you know - well dance any which way you like. You get looked at. Askance. And with good cause I'm sure. I bet that move I have where I wriggle my shoulders and move my head from side to side looks hip only in my head. On any given dance floor this is the part where I feel a cold draft of air in the place people used to be. These said people can be found on the outer periphery of the said floor doing the askance thing at me. So being quick on the uptake, I've got the message. All the dancing you'll see me do these days is a discreet tap of the right foot with a gentle swish of the hips about 5 degrees to either side of my body. It makes me look contained and dignified.

But I miss it. How the music flows around me and lifts me up and gives me all the grace I can possibly need - as long as I am alone in my house and locked inside my bedroom. When I dance I'm the very embodiment of it. Its transforming. Not in an aliens movie kind of way or anything ... well I'm sure you'll know what I mean.

Ask me if I'm happy? and I'll say just dance if you can.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tys on 40

Click here to view these pictures larger

Being 40 and being mellow - at the park on the husband's milestone birthday. Nice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coming aound

Recently been going to a lot of watering holes with Tys - between meetings, way back from work ... that sort of thing. Its been a long time since we went out just the two of us. Tys' usual talk ranging from the morbid to the morbid and my everlasting patience with the whole thing - he does manage to keep me glued to every word though. I don't know if its the weather or something but I've been feeling really nostalgic - especially sitting in the cheery pubs with the wood smell and the rain outside ... its like those times when we were just married and didn't need any other company but our own. He claims its still that way - I'm his only real friend etc. Anti-social as he is, I just might be actually. Its not for lack of people trying to get close to him though. The ones he doesn't chase away with this kind of talk, he chooses to keep behind inches thick people retardant walls. So ... he's stuck with me then.

Its Thursday finally and I can't wait to go out again this evening - take the children and mom shopping, ride on the metro, Global Village round 2 tomorrow and getting the husband to buy us all some horribly unhealthy candied apples and things like that.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Love Delusion

I guess we're all more in love with the idea of being in love than with the actual object of our affections. Its the euphoria we chase - like we do with alcohol, cigarettes, religion, rituals, fragrances ... among other things. We're just so much in need of external stimuli to make life worth living. At 35 and married with kids one would hope for a certain quiet sense of well being and a yardstick by which to live out the rest. But the problem with being self analytical is that you usually find what you would rather not. Like arriving at the said age and discovering restlessness. Also a sort of yearning associated with a long forgotten (buried deep?) time. Wanting to redefine what you're getting in the name of love - wishing it was a little more doomed and a little less friendly. Ah well.

Good thing is that the pain has a cure - there is in me the blessed faculty to be an observer ... of my own emotions and stream of consciousness. And of course there are books. Let me go be a drama queen between the pages of one of those.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thursday Morning

Just finished an interview with a free lance graphic designer. Younger woman, not quite 30, fresh faced and somewhat brash. She had that typical style of speech that I associate with Pakistan and got very comfortable when I started talking to her in Hindi. Great body of work - she has dreamt up entire exhibition stands and given it perspective using software tools, she's even designed a window cleaner that is now being used at the Burj. There was no effort on her part to put up even a mildly sophisticated or any other kind of demeanour. She loves to dress up though. I could tell from the lilac trim on her abaya and matching head scarf - done up eyelids. Slightly swollen eyes, tired and mildly puffy. Its probably because of the stay at home husband who cannot work due to a "back condition". And two young children can certainly take their toll on a person.

So I quite liked the idea of working with her. I mean she is a woman with serious limitations. She's just doesn't fit the ideal proto or is even close. But she has built a network from I-Mate to Thuraya to Geox - she has held on to a car, a laptop, a certain dashing sense of style and a lot of accented English just so she can use the brilliant ideas inside her head to make a life for her family. So I think I'll give it a go.

Travelling next week to India, sans kids and husband. I've forgotten how to. But I'm sure once I've stocked up the fridge and pulled out matching socks and underwear for each day of the week for the kids and instructed P for the 100th time on what to do when Rhea wakes up in the middle of the night, I'll really enjoy myself.

I promise to post some stunning pictures of the mountains when I'm back.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In the spirit of the game

A competitive spirit brings out the best in people they say - makes us want to raise the bar, realise buried potential. Its all very good when a competitive spirit is fostered in moderation and with accompanying traits such as kindness and sensitivity and knowing when to let go. But I think thats just me - lately I've been interacting with people who strongly feel that teaching your kids to survive in a dog eat dog world has to take precedence over any other 'old fashioned' values. I completely agree that our children have to be able to deal with a drastically changing world and be prepared for a projected scenrio few years hence when they will be semi-adults ... plus I don't want my children to be so naive that they are always the targets of the smarter, worldly wise ones. But, I think its taking things too far when 5 year olds are already cued in on the number game - "Aunty, look ... Rishi is standing 4th in the march past line and my sister is 1st!" or when 8 year olds already have poor self worth due to a perceived lack of material things ... "Aunty, we bought a new sofa set bigger than yours and it cost ... dirhams - aunty where did you buy Rhea's earrings from, are they gold, I don't like gold that much" or when kids start learning to lie if it means saving their skins - I know of parents who love when that happens because it apparently proves how clever the child is at getting by. What about a 7 year old who tells the house help that she must pick up her toys because 'we pay you to do that' and the child's mother ignores this by saying that "my daughter has an ego problem taking directions from the maid yaar". Ego problems at age 7? I remember thinking quite rightly as it turns out- that Ego was the name of a mythical creature at that same age. Respect for elders, basic consideration for another person's feelings, just plain good manners - what about those? More and more it seems that bad behaviour is being ignored due to plain one-upness. "If a kid hits you, hit him back" or this one set of parents who are ok with their child treating a neighbour's kid rudely because that same kid is their daughter's class monitor and apparently picks on her in school. And I get the sense that they would rather the situation be reversed and have their kid be this enviable, demi-god class monitor.

Little incidents are in my face all the time and there have been many times I have seen reflections of parental aspirations or ambitions in the way their kids talk and behave. This can't be good. Its disconcerting to be talking to a kid who is trying to interact with you as an adult. Then again I wonder, am I using a very Bohemian yardstick to guage what I should teach my children? Aren't they better off knowing some inconvenient truths along with their peers even if I disapprove? Because when my kid leaves home every morning, its this very competitive environment he is going to have to handle himself in and I won't be doing him any favors by making him a goody two shoes. And all these kids are basically great children, bright and individualistic - just about 50 light years removed from the way kids used to be.

I seem to have missed much.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vacations and discriminations

So will be in Bangalore again sooner than I expected - schools in UAE are closing 10 days earlier than planned due to the 'intense heat'. The other half suggested a longer holiday and I jumped like the proverbial seal at the striped ball. A dear friend recently and suddenly lost her father and I feel like I've been given an opportunity to get there and hold her hand for a bit. Going back to India at any time always makes me feel hopeful and alive - it must be all the deliciously polluted air back there :). After that we go to God's own country (truly) and road trip for a few days before heading north to Uttaranchal and 15 days of trekking amid snow capped mountains at Munsiyari and Pithoragarh. I have a bevvy of eager relatives waiting to see the kids - especially the little one. This will be her first trip to get her in touch with her Pahadi side. So glory days ahead!

Meanwhile, yesterday saw a very rare, big bad skirmish between me and Tys on his latest post. I always hate it when anyone gets crude and his post was definitely that. A sort of reverse gender inequality or men bashing has always been a pet peeve of his, but I never realised how deep it went. Yet, I feel the rant became hurtful and personal and didn't serve the purpose it was meant to at all.

But yes, I have a pretty good idea about what prompted yesterdays outburst. See even I have to admit that increasingly women are bashing men for not much reason except that yes, they are men. We crib about everything from their lack of EQ to their cluelessness in the face of our sensitivity and about thousand pages of more such stuff. Well you get the idea. Now the ranter in question, lives and works in a polar society in sandman's land where just the sheer diversity of the expat community means that some form of bias is always present. Add to that the very hostile and entitled attitude displayed by local women in the corporate world especially towards men from other communities - doesn't win any brownie points for the female cause from him in general. I am as emancipated as the rest of them but even I can't help notice a somewhat naive and prejudiced tendency among women to indiscriminately bitch about men.

I've had any number of conversations with friends and acuqaintances that have ended with "men!" or "what else do you expect from men" etc. Granted that the emotional quotient that women set so much store by is a still a much evolving conecpt especially for the 30 something man who is a little conflicted about dealing with women in current society - imagine a traditional upbringing with a stereotype role playing mother vs a workplace and social set up where women are behaving exactly like the men he has known and sometimes more efficiently so! Confusing? Hell yes!

At least we women have the good fortune of having known discrimination and prejudice from the time we were created (periods and labour pains anyone??). So as the ranter so eloquently puts it, lets deal with it.

Just one thing though - do I need to understand why a man who watched his wife go through two childbirths and lives with her on ALL days of the month would choose these very subjects to illustrate ire against the very bad act of male bashing? Hmmm ... And I'm not a quitter for the female cause, but frankly do I want to deal with monthly cycles and all the glory that comes with it, deal with hormones, deal with pain, look after my man (even when he has the slightest fever, cold or body ache), be his perpetual sounding board - ironic or something, always be the one to take the high road, listen to offensive rants and still 'get it', look after my kids, look after my home, do my bit to bring home the bacon, be a woman AND be thought of as a bore?? Hell no!.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What happened exactly?

Finally a moment to do just what I feel like. The kiddos are suitable occupied in school and nap respectively. The husband has very graciously quit the house to go earn our daily bread and I couldn't care less about cleaning a damn thing in the house right now. Its my 35th birthday tomorrow and I would like to have my panic attack in peace thank you very much! And I would also like to blog about something normal instead of the over the top sobby, uber intellectual kind of thing that I usually write about - at least I think that my posts can sometimes stray down that prissy path. See I've learnt that you can't actually come right out and claim that you're brain is top class, real deal grey matter. You always have to apologize before or after making the intellectual claim so you don't come off sounding pompous. Anyhoo, I digress. Its all part of the impending 35th thing. I seem to have morphed into my dad this week because I keep asking myself 'what have I accomplished'? 'make a list'. I already look so much like him, now I am him.

Gulp gulp here goes - Good daughter? Check. Typical elder sister? Check. Loving and suitably suffering wife? Double Check. Super mom wearing red undies and cape? Indeed. Career woman? Oh quite. Talented and well groomed? More or less. Heart of gold? 24 carat sterling. Do gooder? Irritatingly so. Can be used as mold/mould for aspiring perfect woman? You betcha. Being Madhumita of the shooting mouth off, non conformist, left path travelling, trying to be profounder than profound, saving the world and myself in the bargain fame? NO. Definitely failed there. Definitely time for a sea change. So in protest of I'm not sure what, I wrote the sort of poem I used to when I was in my 20's - you know, the kind of thing that doesn't make sense to anybody? The sort of lines you might right at 4 am after too many drinks at some college party with like minded friends after a long and soul satisfying night of random topics of deep conversation? And I call upon all you folks to just read the damn thing already. Because this is my birthday party and you are all invited. This is titled:

Never Seen

Seemingly tranquil, undulating water in the womb of the world,
We ride the wave and never crash,
We link hands and discover ridges and furrows and ask - what are we today?
Nothing ventured, nothing lost, nothing learnt.
What we gain is reams of pain and the need to be sane,
And gently undulating dreams of those seemingly tranquil waves.

Thanx for listening :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sticks and Stones ...

... won't break my bones. But the human condition just might. Its too bloody (and I plagiarised just now and I'm not sorry).

Ok this so trite. But really, we could use the maker in Swat and Sri Lanka right about now. The last photo of the suddenly abandoned child I saw looked like my little Rhea. And yes I am writing this in my air conditioned room within the four walls of my comfortable home right now. Save us I'm thinking ... why this? why this? Give us only so much misery that will not rip our hearts right out. Please God a prayer. You let us exist in such ignorance - don't compound that with this meaningless massacre of tiny lives that we are only equipped to be spectators to. I want to erase all wounds, be a universal mother, give food, make a somewhat perfect world. But.

Please please, end the strife. Save us.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Self indulgently speaking

Well I'm back to blogging after what feels like an entire era has passed by. But not really, its only been something like five months since life as I know it disappeared into a far removed dimension. And I use the term 'I' loosely. The sun rises and sets and in a unique twist my days are spent without a single moment or thought to spare for myself. I know my home inside out, the shape of things, nooks and crannies, the titles of books jostling for space on my shelves, each item of my childrens' clothing, the exact number of black t-shirts my husband owns (and seldom wears), all the dals, spices and macaroni packets in the kitchen, the changing colours of the walls with the setting of the sun, the everyday traffic sounds outside my bathroom window. And no time to look inside. I always did come upon important events in my life without the slightest suspicion that they were going to happen to me. To other people, yes. But not to me. I call it the ivory tower syndrome - and I'm stuck inside one even now. So busy making choices - forgetting to see which part matters.

But its all good. My daughter is one year old today, my son is growing up (and ever so slightly out of reach), my marriage is as all marriages are, parents, sister, in-laws, well meaning friends, all check out on the list of things that keep us content. And I'm deeply attached, sometimes more than I care to be. Now if I can only find that elusive something that never becomes more than a distant idea in the most personal corner of my mind.

But right now, I'm excited about going out into cyber world and catching up on some brilliant, sensitive, funny and insightful posts. Hope today is great for all of you and especially my little daughter. Happy birthday Rhea! - may the music never stop.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


We're living through everyone's worst nightmare. To watch helplessly as your children die - what can possibly be more soul damaging. The misbegotten terrorists, all young lads aged less than 25 years old, are that breed of youth that has been blinkered, brain washed and exploited for agendas that are truly convulated, evil and the unnatural bent of a dangerously rabid set of minds. Extremists are now so easily crossing over to the otehr side of everything humane - and all for a supposed ideology that by now even they don't completely understand.

But never mind the whys and wherefores. The last three days of devastation in Mumbai has revealed one thing very clearly. Terrorists no longer kill somebody else. They stroll into your backyards and shoot your children. You might be shopping for groceries at a mall, or watching a film at a theatre or eating dinner at a restaurant and you might pay with your lives for these banal acts.

What we need immediately is a ready plan for defending ourselves, our friends, families and neighbourhood should the horrific need arise. Lets get done with expecting our politicians, our cops, our special untis and our so called leaders to come up with a plan because clearly, they can't. And we have nobody to blame but ourselves because we put them in charge and sat back to live complacent, island like lives in complete ignorance.

I propose that every apartment building and society identify security gaps and plug them at once. Make sure all the places our kids visit - schools, activity centres pass stringent security standards set by US. Form core groups at our offices and workplaces for a practical action plan that takes us out of the sitting ducks category and puts us in charge of events and how they turn. I mean how did 15 men, a misguided notion and some AK47s wreak this amount of havoc?? The armed commandos alone far far outnumbered the terrorists, yet 196 people like you and me were killed and some unfortunate ones lived to see their families wiped out.

The world has changed, maybe beyond recognition but lets not hang back and expect it to sort itself out. Maybe we can't access the Al Qaida headquarters and wipe them out, maybe we can't check the sub fractions that are breeding like so many roaches and getting into our everyday lives - but we can be prepared to fight them should the need arise.

Lets not be caught napping.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Been awhile since I updated my blog. Many changes, many events and just a general lack of inclination to do anything online later, I'm at the computer again ... but honestly, I don't have a plan. I'm not feeling particularly witty or in the frame of mind to write about anyting definite. So I guess I'll make this a random update post for my friends who take the trouble to keep me in their radar and look me up every now and then.

I'm a mother of two now and I've definitely arrived into the role. Actually not a role. By now I think I'm more mother than I am Madhumita (she by the way, is just an eccentric coot who has strange notions about everything). While I spent the last five years experimenting on my unsuspecting elder one, with my second child, I am finally ready to do good by them. I've given up working 55 hours a day and I'm willing to get by on much less money to buy things with, just so I can be with them, teach them everything I know (the poor dears), be their guide and not expect a darned thing in return, show them how to live well and without regrest or guilt and in the process wind down my hectic, monkey minded existence and find/redeem myself. Ok, so its about myself in the end, but I'm not sorry.

Ok funny anecdote. This happened one afternoon at my son's school.

Another mom waiting to pick up her child: Hi. Listen, I just wanted to say that your son has beautiful eyes and looks Bengali. Are you?

A taken aback me: No we're not, but my dad lived in Calcutta for awhile (!!??).

Vachan's mom: Oh ok, so it just kind of rubbed off did it? Grin Grin ...

Hopefully my bolt headedness will not rub off on my children. But then I think of their father who usually keeps both his feet parked in his mouth and I know that there isn't much hope.

Anyway, the good lady decided to let the imbecility pass and is now a friend. Hopefully my son's short term memory will save him from any trauma in the future.

And another thing, Missionaries of Charity, an orphange located in St. Thomas Town, Bangalore needs things. They could use cooking oil, eggs and washing powder on a regular basis for about 60 children who are in their care. Anyone willing to help, please call them on 080 25474993. In fact if the Bangalore bloggers are willing, maybe we can go as a group around Christams and do something substantial for the kids?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just alright.

Right now at this moment, being alive has come together in complete perfection for me. My head is not abuzz with questions, red rhododendrons are in full bloom near my window and I'm being still. Why do I really need to blog about this. Because writing it in a diary for solely my viewing pleasure has always been just a touch too self indulgent for my taste. Writing to the great cyber beyond on the other hand, makes me feel more like I'm interacting in a healthy social kind of way and less like the eccentric, opposing, indiosyncratic individual that I really am.

A few cliches are clamoring for expression here ... 'Life is a struggle', 'Today should usually be enough' and many other such trite platitudes. The gosh darned thing is that they're all so true. I know a lot of English and that includes a whole bunch of home truths that can only ever be found between the pages of long forgotten dusty volumes perched atop even dustier bookshelves. But all these home truths as it were usually come home to roost in my head.

What i 'd like to do today is to go to Pondicherry just as myself, sit in the balcony of the Park guest house and make fast work of about 500 glasses of Smirnoff with apple juice.

But as I've got to go and be a mom, wife, daughter and other such random things, I think I'll just go wear some bells and whistles and take the familial troops for some Onam Sadhya at Coconut Grove intsead.

Oh and have you heard the one about 'Life being the sum of all your choices'? Damn those know-it-alls.

And oh yes, OnAshamsagal to one and all. May your days be filled with bounty.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Koramangala Buzz

Folks, for those of you who live or work in and around Koramangala, Bangalore and read my blogs, here's something to do during lunch breaks. There is an old beggar who sits outside the post office on 12th main right next to HOPCOMS(BDA complex road). He's lame and infirm so he can barely move around - please do drop off food parcels to him whenever you can. He's always at the same place everyday,right outside the post office gate. And while you're at it, please have a chat with him ... he loves to talk :). Hope to meet some of you there!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some Men!

I'm glad i married who I married. I really am. Soul mate, best friend, sounding board, all of that ... but somtimes, just plain darned asinine. I'm not just saying this. Its absolutely true and is reconfirmed, week after week after week. This week ...

So the man is in desert country working and working very hard indeed. A hard day at the office usually ends around seven in the evening with his trusted JD and a frugal meal consisting of only about 5 courses, washed down with a movie or two before the staright eight hours repose and then its office again. Tough. Very tough.

Now, I am here - in Bangalore. With two kids aged 5 years and 3 months and I have it easy as pie let me tell you. I only have to wake up at about 5 every morning, feed, water bathe 2 kids, drop one at school, get back, work on my technical writing projects for 4 hours while also juggling baby and her 5,000 needs. Then I have the pleasant task of getting the elder one back from school, organize his lunch, feed the baby AGAIN, handle badgering calls from clients asking for "where the hell is that content you promised me dammit!", make nice with mom, do chores for my dad, play with my son, take him to the library, get his homework done, tell stories, be his friend, keep talking to my very social baby and then on perfect days like yesterday there is torrential rain. And my son is in drawing class. And I have to pick him up and there is nobody to watch the baby. And I don't have a car seat so I can't drive there. So I put her in a sling, open up my trusted umbrella, run to school, get my son, start walking back and the rain decides to do a number on me by pelting down like what not. So I hold the darned umbrella at an angle that soaks the back of my clothes and the back of my boy's rather large head. The baby is looking bewlidered at all this sudden activity and then she decides that she needs to express her discomfort with loud wails. People on the street are staring at us oddly and we just about manage to stumble into the building in a collective piece. I change and dry two tired kids, change and dry myself, run to the ktchen to get the tired artist his dinner and then the phone rings. The man at the other end says 'helllooo dahhhling, watcha doing? I am watching cartoons". So i tell him what I'm doing and he laughs. A brief tinkling sound and says "How do these things happen to you?".

And then the skies did open up. Now there's enough seismic activity from India to UAE and its definitely rocking the boat. And dead bang in the centre of the boat is this clueless man who just wishes that he had kept his mouth shut and offered up a long distance hug instead.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Friday morning and I've missed every deadline that makes up my daily routine. My son is at home because of a sore throat and enjoying his hard won time in front of the tv - Superman doing his thing. Baby daughter is beside me doing her darndest to turn over and establish a new milestone. Louis Armstrong is crooning Moon River on Media Player and I just read a funny, warm email from my husband. Lets just say that I'm in that particular state of mind that brings words like "contentment" and "well being" to mind. Perfect in fact, to take up Prats' tag and do it full justice :). She would like me to list out my top ten literary characters and I'm very happy to oblige.

I've done a mental prod through all the books I've ever read. Covering almost every genre and type. But no type of book has ever come quite close to upstaging for me the "classics" with their inmpossibly archaic scenarios. Zimbly love it! :). First on my list :

1. I'm going to have to cheat and put two names here. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Bronte's classic. I first read it in school and I think to this day it has endured as my model for the most romantic story ever. My husband even thinks that I must have been a Quaker in my last birth. Jane is perfect and Mr. Rochester is the sort of man I want to be in love with.

2. Ayn Rand's Howard Roark, his orange hair and extremist ideals happened to me when I was at that age when everything is black and white and the only characters that capture your imagination are the impractical ones. The ones that don't exist in this dimension. I was waiting to be inspired and Roark certainly did that. I probably even looked for someone like him among my friends and men I dated. I think I may have married a certain likeness. Minus the orange hair though. Minus most of his hair actually. Ah well ...

3. A favorite uncle gifted me the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on my 13th birthday. I started reading the night of my birthday party, and had to be physically separated from that big, fat volume a few days later. I tried to convince my parents to buy me a magnifying glass and a beret but they wouldn't work without Sherlock Holmes' acquiline nose and I didn't have enough pocket money for a nose job. That was that. But a more interesting, brilliant, sardonic, perfectly imperfect cocaine habit sporting fictional detective I have yet to find. Though I love Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone almost as much.

4. Crime novels have always been a favorite and I'm really sorry Agatha Christie died - but she left me Hercule Poirot. He's smart, humane and has any number of obsessive, compulsive disorders. But I started eating chocolates because he loves them so much and in my book - no tall, dark, handsome man can compete with his short, egg shaped head and magnificent moustaches. Plus he's the perfect gentleman and takes the law into his own perfectly manicured hands when it involves a woman who he thinks is noble. Even if she did commit murder.

5. Margaret Schlegel from E.M. Forster's Howard's End. As I grow older, I find myself embodying traits I found in her. A lot of women of a certain age will identify with her rooted to the earth practical nature, her dreams, wisdom, her refusal to accept human nature at face value - I'm sure will strike a chord. I've read the book thrice and each time has been a joy.

6. For sheer intensity, nobody can beat Emily Bronte's Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. I guess his effect on all young girls who read him was the same. At my age, he now qualifies as an abusive, self-centered, over emotional excuse for a man, but back when I didn't know any better, that sort of "take what you want" man had a certain dangerous charm. Gosh, an objective review of Heathcliff! I am definitely old!

7. Iris Griffen from Margaret Atwood's "Blind Assassin". She had that unattainable style and ultimate nobility that made her unforgettable for me.

8. Lord Emsworth from Blanding's Castle. Why don't they make people like that anymore? Delightfully British and hilarious - this Lord of the manor is my favorite Wodehouse character of all time. I know Jeeves is a universal favorite, but ... well ... I always found him to be kind of sly. Lord Emsworth and his prize pig Empress have saved me from the blues more times than I can remember - er ... corny, but true :)

9. Estha from God of Small Things. Arundathi Roy was right when she said that she would write just that one novel. She couldn't possible top that anyway - when you squeeze your entire soul into one story, whats left to give? Esthappan's character touched me in ways that cannot be described. So I won't try.

10. Maneck from Rohinton Mistry's Fine Balance. Actually even Dina, Om and his nephew (can't remember his name). But Maneck left an indelible impression for his grit, struggle, the slow and shocking coming of age in an India that most of us never experience and his final defeat made me go all silent for awhile after I put down the book.

So this post is done and its already Saturday morning. Between looking after the kids and doing only a million other things, couldn't post this yesterday. But Prats, thanks for this. Enjoyed myself! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Thinking Outward

Occurs to me that there are hardly any chance meetings in life. Sometime ago, I arrived at the conclusion that every single person we relate with in the course of our lives have been put there as a sort of a mirror - or a gauge ... a means in other words to help us expand minds, hearts, perspectives, beahviour patterns. Knowing this entirely shifts the way we see and do things. Why am I writing about this today? I don't know ... maybe I went for a walk all by my lonesome and had the uncanny feeling that I was everyone else and vice versa. A feeling of oneness with human kind. But its true. Someone in its infinite wisdom (or game of dice!) is definitely playing relay tag with us.

I took my 2 month old to a restaurant recently and standing at the door was a beggar with an infant tied to her bosom. She stood there trying to feed the baby and retaining some semblance of modesty all at the same time. We spoke and turned out that our kids were the same age and we were both nursing our children and only the circumstances were different. Only that. I get porridge and nuts and vitamins to ensure my good health and she gets whatever she can scavenge for. But somehow, beyond the obvious pity and the sudden need I had to really cry, I re-learnt a lesson in fortitude. I don't get so tired at the end of the day anymore.

Which brings me to an important issue. We simply must start a soup kitchen type of place. Of course there is enough food for everyone ... its simply not getting to those who are hungry. I was thinking of approaching hotel kitchens to take away whatever they think they can discard everyday - I know for a fact that most of it is unspoilt. I mean if it were home, we would be re-heating it for next day's lunch box or something. But we need a place and municipal permission. If anyone has any bright ideas, write to me please. I'm looking as well.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the Bangalore bloggers meet being organized by Gazal. Shall write about how it went soon :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Plug

I am currently residing amid fame and literary glory in the form of my artistically inclined dad - the pater is this seasoned theatre personality. Ever since he's "retired" from his day job, he actually hasn't :). What used to be a one play per year interest has now become a full fledged theatre industry and Flat number A402, has some really er interesting comings and goings, histrionics and sightings let me tell you.

Dad owns a theatre company called Kalayan - active in Bangalore circles for fifteen years or more. I even had a brief and disastrous career on stage in one of his plays. TOI devoted an entire para to my new brand of acting known as dead pan or simply - dead. Sigh ... greatness not recognized and all that.

Well, moving on, I'm back in Bangalore and just in time it seems to catch (he won't let me anywhere near his precious troupe and inner exciting workings with a barge pole!) Kalayan's latest called "Kab Tak Rahain Kunware".

Its being staged at the Chowdiah Memorial on the 20th. Anyone interested in Hindi theatre can catch more details on the website including ticket outlets.

Have a dekko and have fun!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shifting Gears

My daughter is now all of a month old and I've just about started settling into a routine of sorts. When I'm not looking at her and grinning like an idiot, I'm either tending to my son, my health, household matters, packing for my move back to Bangalore and of course finding ways to spend some quality time with the husband who's walking around looking pinched and haggard and somewhat attention deprived. Or I'm reading ... the only place I can find some sane moments to myself seem to be between the pages of one book or the other. Nights used to be for sleep and repose but these days I'm the proverbial on call vending machine so I've decided not to attempt any of that sleep stuff at nights and try reading and relaxation instead. Because as is the way with all pint sized babies, you've no sooner closed your eyes for those forty winks when small mewling sounds from the cradle are sure to wake you again.

And thats how I've overdosed on Mr. Jeremy Clarkson's tell-it-like-it-is brand of humor on my nocturnal reading sessions. It all started with "The World according to Clarkson" and that wasn't enough so the husband got me Volume 2 called "And Another Thing".

Whats great about this series is that they are a collection of short one or two page articles so its like a box of assorted chocolates and you never know what sort of treat you might find next! A bit bad for your health if you are recovering from surgery like I am - almost split my sutures laughing :-D

And the man has a stacked upper storey - by way of a thinking brain I mean. His commentaries are not just random ... they are a humorous take on everything thats wrong with our world, the political system, global hunger, going overboard with political correctness ... you get the drift? That and of course machines. Cars, jets, jumbo jets, 747s, this is the host of Top Gear we're reading from, so expect intensive knowledge on these. Plus the odd nugget thrown in about his wife, kids and colleagues. None of it saccharine sweet let me assure you.

Haven't enjoyed humour reads since P.G.W. although of a completely different variety.

I've also discovered that while I was busy settling into my 30s, some phenomenal new artists have entered the music scene. And they all seem to be under 20 years old. Heard a lyrical, soulful one called "Chasing Pavements" from an artist called Adele who is apparently about 17 or something. The younger lot seemed to have lived so much more so quickly - and they seem to comprehend the meaning of things with so much clarity. Imogen Heap, Amy Winehouse, Keane ... there is so much wonderful music from the West on the airwaves these days. This is probably what evolution is really about.

Have a listen to Adele (I couldn't embed the you tube link here for some reason). She's quite wonderful!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Colour Coded

Just a quick note to wish all you good people "Vishu Ashamsakal!" - have a peaceful, healthy, fulfilling and prosperous New Year. In the usual Indian tradition of synchronicity, Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi and no doubt other new beginnings are being marked in and around the same date and I can't help but notice that so many of our customs are similar - yet so unique.

My own Kumaoni New Year was marked all this month of "Chait" and so its been a bright yellow month. Yellow for the mustard flowers we pahadis grow to signify spring and its bounty and yellow for the konna flowers my Kerala half of the family brings in on Vishu morning for much the same reason.

Yellow for the unifying fabric of the world if you will.

Whatever you celebrate and which ever way you choose to do it, hope it is glorious! All my Best Wishes!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Breathing Out

For me, sitting still is a learned response. Something in my DNA made me super energetic and nothing seems to slow me down! Except the fact that I'm about 4 weeks away from having my second child. And this slowing down is not by choice either. My body has literally rebelled by becoming a shape not conducive to quick movement ... and as Jane Austen would put it,"confined".

Yesterday, I handed over all my work in preparation for my long hiatus from the big rat race.

Today, I'm gnawing at my nails wondering what I'm going to do next. Five business ideas have already presented themselves to me on a gold salver as it were and one has already taken root in my mind as THE thing to do while I'm waiting for my little one to be born.

I may just be a lost cause. "Sheesh" I'm thinking. So is my husband and my son aged 4, who can't articulate as well but has been eyeing this new cat-on-hot-bricks mother quite warily all morning.

If its not the office then its things I can always find to do at home - dust, shift, maybe the centre table looks better at an angle sort of things. And did I mention the number of activities I usually find for my little boy to participate in? Well I do. He's had quite enough of this methinks. When he sees me coming, he's taken to saying ... "I velly tired now" "Ok?". Ok.

This afternoon, I took a few deep breaths, got my well meaning husband to work from home in the afternoon, left the son in his care (complete with a list of activities which something tells me were not even attempted), and got a friend to take me on that looong drive to the lovely Madinat Souk in Dubai.

We met a third friend there to belatedly celebrate her birthday over a simple Italian lunch at a restaurant called Toscana.

Our dear friend was touched at the gesture, we went to a new place after ever so long, we went as individuals and not as wives, mothers etc, didn't care whether the quaint abra rides were child friendly or the food too spicy to suit little palates. The conversation was stimulating, wide ranging and generally suited to adult cerebral stimulation.

The weather held up as well. It was just perfectly toasted for us to sit at an outdoor table drinking sparkling water with lots of ice and watching the world go by in the little Arabic boats while we chatted and people watched. Rounded up the divine meal of portobello mushrooms, some simple white sauce pasta and panna cotta with home made ice cream. Shared all our food and didn't worry about which of it was healthy.

It really is all in the mind. Once I decided I wasn't indispensable, it turned out that heck I actually wasn't! Also this news flash ... I am my own worst critic. I can actually do something just for myself.

Decided to ride the liberating wave and went to a saloon run by men - a first for me, and got my hair snipped in a smart, new cut for a little extra money and somehow didn't worry that it didn't fit 'the budget' that I usually allow myself at the neighbourhood parlor for hair cuts.

Got home and found that the world had continued to function. My son looked like he had done something decadent while I was away and enjoyed every minute of it, and my husband had that guilty look I usually associate with him having not listened to a single direction I had given him. A few calls to office elicited the knowledge that no, I hadn't been missed. My house help had done what she usually does and done it well without me having breathed down her neck.

I sat down, put my feet up quite literally and for the first time in as long as I can remember, asked for someone else to make me a cup of tea. Sipped it and decided that so much well being had to be shared with my blogger pals. And so, here I am.

I could get addicted to this. I could find that I have more time than I realise I do. I could even find that there is no excuse not to get involved in all the causes dear to my heart. In fact, tomorrow, I'm going to register with a few of the animal charities that I can now spend some time with. These places need newsletters written and its something i can do while I'm er still confined. Hmmm ... and then i could pay some bills online, and re-work that budget ... hmmm ... and that centre table there - didn't it look better straight? and where is that instruction book on how to make craft toys for kids? ... Hmmm ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Amma's acres

One of the great things marriage brought me was a special association with a unique lady - my mother-in-law. Although separated in age by more than three decades, we share so many traits in common that we are more friends than relatives. She is forward thinking, fearless, manages to step on many toes, embodies Kerala in her dress, cultural outlook and mannerisms and generally strides across all barriers through the sheer force of her personality. I once was part of her book club group and it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life - given that not one other person there was my peer! Looking through some long pending downloads on my camera, I found some from this trip we made last year to Palakkad - Amma's very own nalukettu which she built away from her ancestral home and town in Trivandrum in that decisive way she has. It would be futile to express in words the beauty and serenity of what she has created by way of a get-away.

So here is an attempt at a story in pictures :

Nalukettu is amma's simple and elegant home with an open roof and receptacle to hold rain water:

The sun drenched acres:

What my little boy gained:

On my afternoons at the kitchen window:

Town tripping in Palakkad:

Pond beside the house : Father and son time

She now plans to use this place as a meeting ground for like minded women who need a refuge from whatever ails them - another club, this time on a philanthropic scale. I have no doubt that it will happen. As I said, she doesn't have time for pipe dreams. She's too busy fulfilling them.

For her, these lines from P.B. Shelley:

Friendship - whose coming is as light and music are
'Mid dissonance and gloom - a star which moves not mid the moving heavens alone
A smile among dark frowns : a beloved light : A solitude, a refuge, a delight.

Monday, March 17, 2008


And how. So the young 'un aged 4, was sitting around doing what he usually does - making a lot of noise on a keyboard we had bought him in a fit of utter foolishness. Me, well I was doing what I do best - feeling guilty - for not being in the same room/breathing space as him encouraging him to make music a la Stevie Wonder or some such good parenting thing.

After flitting from room to room, starting tasks, not finishing them, getting on the resident couch potato otherwise known as husband's nerves and giving even my two cats the jitters, I decided to ditch all this giving my kid some space business and went and plonked myself beside him.

Saw that he was trying out some nursery rhyme tunes. Started singing along. Quite loudly. All this interspersed with "whats up darling", "very good my kanna" and much pinching of cheeks and kisses on foreheads. After enduring all of this for a good 10 minutes, the young man turns to me and says in a patient, old wisdom voice ...

"Amma, can you please please keep qrrrieet?"

Goes back to making noise without a backward glance at the pile of ashes trying to do an imitation of me sitting right beside him.

Ah the shame, the shame! And where are those feet when you need them to speed you out of any given place?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Game

So I ended yesterday with the official confirmation that my company has been cheated out of a significant amount of money by a client who masquerades as a top of the line advertising agency here in the UAE.

The incident dates back nearly 4 months when we agreed to take on a branding job for a well known agency and were required to produce and install some high quality graphics for a clothing brand named rather quaintly after a fruit.

Although we had been doing fairly well since my little production house venture started in Jan 2006, it had always been difficult breaking through established Ad agencies and so, I was on rather a high when we landed this job. We were given 15 days at a highly negotiated price to complete our work in time for a major event the clothing brand was launching. We set to and were delayed at the very start of the job due to incomplete artworks, incorrect measurements and lack of installation equipment which were all our receivables from the agency in question.

However, with some careful planning and a lot of extra effort and hours (I literally lived out of my car at the site during the fag end of the project), we managed to get the work done with a brief delay of just 3 days ... far from unusual in this industry. The result was a sultry looking Penelope Cruz (the face of the brand) staring out in various poses from a row of tall buildings overlooking an important thoroughfare in Dubai netting massive exposure for the client. A rather difficult job in other words, well executed and with the minimum of delays.

So imagine my shock when after using our product for the two months mentioned in their original contract, the agency suddenly did a volte face on us and simply refused to pay us citing the 3 day delay as the reason. When I realised that they had carefully avoided signing any delivery orders or invoices during this period (signatory supposedly out of town, accountant out of office due to illness etc), I knew I had been well, truly and expensively suckered.

Well, all was not lost I felt. Surely, wasn't all we needed really, was a face-to-face to set things right? Putting myself in a conciliatory frame of mind, I put together a comprehensive brief of all the documentation I had made sure to collect before starting the work and with back up from the directors of my parent organization, made a surprise visit to the agency to talk to their head. He had of course "just returned" from his business trip and received us very graciously and with no dearth of courtesy. Asking us to return for a proper meeting as he was backed up with prior appointments, he saw us out with every hope that the matter would be amicably resolved and a fair review done. More fool I!

In effect, I gave them enough time and ample notice to fabricate a series of non-events that were really a bunch of nonsense conveyed in jargon. Everyday interactions between production teams that are the norm were magnified to make us look positively incompetent and the second meeting with the agency had me face to face with a man who bore zero resemblance to the young, congenial entrepreneur with whom I had been interacting for all those months.

By this time, I was feeling positively disheartened and it didn't help that every time I went down that same thoroughfare, the result of our hard work kept staring me in the face. In the course of my career, I had dealt with many situations, had seen the good, bad and ugly of all things professional and yet, this had happened to me. My own naivete in the face of some slick manoeuvring from the other party made me feel hopelessly wronged. I had examined every aspect of our professional behaviour in the completion of this job and I couldn't find a single thing that would warrant this outcome.

And then it came to me. I was indeed being naive. Who knew better than I that cheats abound everywhere? I had seen it often - it was just that it was me at the receiving end this time. This was really not much different from money changing hands for so many reasons - to have projects awarded to you, to get your purchase orders released ... the list was endless. Corruption in other words was open to interpretation. It is not done to acknowledge it of course but we all at some level look up to people who can "get their work done" and there had been occasions when I hadn't flinched either.

Kind of sad that I could so quickly become so philosophical about this.

The next step in the phase of this little drama was of course legal. After notices duly filed and games dirtily played, we were offered something unacceptable - 20% of the invoiced amount in lieu of full settlement. That was last evening.

This morning, I'm done being understanding, conciliatory, philosophical and oh yes, corrupt. To accept defeat knowingly or simply to avoid confrontation in a just cause is the same as perpetrating a crime. At least in my book it is. The statement might be strong but I think the sentiment is quite valid. Sometimes it takes a rude shock to realise just how accepting we are of so many things that we have no business allowing.

Now we are all set to fight it out in a court of law. Our chances are slim. As I have seen, all it takes is for a local man to speak the native language, switch on the charm and get away with just about anything. I see some more heartache and a lot more money kissing us goodbye in my immediate future.

But I'm going ahead because quite simply, it will be the right thing to do - probably not smart, but right. And trust me, being right these days calls for a helluva lot of justification.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bird Talk

So today, my little tyke started on the very first annual exams of his young but eventful life. I prepped the small guy endlessly like the insufferably good parent that I am and gave myself a mental pat on the back for having crammed his little brain with all manners of Environmental Science, English and Math thingies. I thought I did a fantabulous job of handling it all without stressing him out and even let his dad take him for a quick stop at a friend's birthday party last evening as a diversion. Fed, watered and put the young man to bed at 9 pm and sat back quite pleased with myself and proceeded to read Agatha Christie's 'Death on the Nile' for only the 50th time (and still couldn't remember who had "done it" by the way!).

Woke up in the morning still basking ... and came down to earth speedily following this conversation with my 4 year old:

- "All set for school baby"?
- "Yes mom. Today is exam no?"
- A warm smile of approval from me later "Indeed it is dear child. Now then - name 2 birds that fly in the sky?"
- "Aaaaaaaaa, errrrrrm ... "Duck" and "Avvel".
- "Er, and what is the young one of a horse called?"
- "Baby horse amma".
- "Pony, son, not baby horse and how about the young one of a Dog?"
- "Please amma, its baby dog" says the enlightened one.
- "Now honey, it isn't "Avvel" at all but "Owl", as in O for "Owl".
- "No, no, mom, its not O for Avvel, its O for "Hootie".
- "No baby, its not".
- "Yes amma, I was walking in the jungle and an "Avvel" came to hoot at me, me, me so its O for Hootie". Uttered with quiet confidence and a tone that would brook no further discussion on the subject.

Loud snickering noises from breakfast table belonging to husband and an ignominious exit to the office for me.

Lets hope they have grace marks for little boy charm and shameless lobbying by a certain paranoid parent.

And this folks - is only the beginning.

Somehow, I've not been able to focus much on work today. Cold sweat on forehead at the thought of EVS orals tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

One of these days

Ok this blog lay-out needs to GO. I'm trawling through pages of all manner of brilliant, humdrum, egocentric and what-not streams of consciousness and frankly I don't think that my page quite cuts it. Where is that colour, that self defining page element that screams "ME" (and no, the egocentric ref. above was not an adjective for me at all!).

Enneways, I'm sitting on top of 5 ft of guilt right now because really, its 8.46 am. and right about now I should have been tooling along to work in that well preserved Civic that passes for transport in my life. Thanx of course to the husband man who borrowed (solely hogged car space) on "OUR" Fortuner simply because he looks like he could squish all lesser mortals in salon versions eeking out road space beside him and he loves the feeling. I've actually seen the slightly manic self satisfied gleam in the man's eyes when he's day tripping. Which is practically everyday.

Sigh, why o why did I sign up for wifedom? Marriage? yes. Traditional, role playing, letting husband take over bigger car simply because he can, wife thingy - just ... well ... NO.

Plus I made dosas and everything for breakfast when I could've just let the lot of 'em eat toast and fruit like the emancipated woman I am. One dosa at a time to total self obliteration.

Ok and now, like this tired ole lay-out, I simply must GO as well. Toodle - ooo.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Mitahaar

Well I finally got around to starting my blog for recipes - completely inspired by talented people like my friend V and the likes of Shilpa at aayis recipes .

I love to cook and I find the idea of instantly sharing a brand new culture simply by opening up my palette to a new taste truly fascinating. Also of course there are very few of us who would not find satisfaction in cooking and feeding people who simply don't have enough - I've never been able to understand how our race allowed for a calamity like hunger. Just look around you - we are blessed with an abundance of things to eat. Yet there are starved children on the street. Lets do what we can about that ... I'm sure a lot of you help in many many ways.

But for here, we'll try to keep it happy shall we? If you like to cook and want to read or share some recipes, please visit my new space at .

I hope to sample many new tastes trough my new blog and will be happy to answer any queries if I know how to!

Thats Me! Says V from Jap Talk :-)